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Beauty Obsession: Goodebox

Once my Birchbox subscription ended, I decided to test out a more natural beauty sample subscription service. I chose Goodebox. I’ve been a subscriber for about six months, and so far I’ve been really pleased with the selection, from the purity of the products to the price points, sizes, and the fact that it’s introduced me to a few brands I didn’t know about or hadn’t tried yet.

Goodebox: 6-7 trial-sized products in each box, $16 per month (plus a discount code for future purchases from each company represented in that month’s box)

Here’s a look at what came in my March box, along with my first impressions of each:

Astara Skincare Daily Refining Scrub ($19 for 2 fl. oz.): This is a full-sized product—already this box is worth more than I paid for it!

First impressions: I’m curious about this scrub, because the ingredients list on the bottle doesn’t match the ingredients list for the same product on the company’s website. Online, phenoxyethanol, which I mostly avoid, is listed. On my bottle, that ingredient is not included. Obviously the formula has been changed…but I wonder which is the most current version.

Moom Organic Hair Remover, Face/Travel Kit ($7.95): Another full-sized product. This may be the best box yet.

First impressions: I’m really looking forward to testing this one—I’ve never tried a sugaring product for hair removal, and it’s supposed to be a great option for sensitive skin. Plus, the ingredients list is very clean: sucrose, lemon juice, chamomile tea, tea tree oil, and aloe.

Morrocan Method Zen Detox Hair & Scalp Therapy ($23 for 4 oz.): This is definitely a sample size, and arrived in a plastic baggie (the image at left is the full-sized product.)

First impressions: I was baffled by this product at first. There are no instructions on the baggie, and when I visited the website, the only instructions I found were to sprinkle it on your feet for athlete’s foot or use as a facial or body mask. Then I discovered the product video, which gives very detailed application instructions—and now I can’t wait to test it out. Hurry up, weekend!

W3ll People Nudist Colorbalm Stick ($19.50): Another full-sized product!

First impressions: This is the first product I broke into and frankly, I’m loving it. The shade is Nudist 1, and more orange than I typically choose for myself, but the color is light enough that I can build it delicately. It’s a bit pricier than my preference for a tinted balm, but I might just splurge on this product in the future because it feels amazing, goes on lightly tinted, and does a great job of moisturizing.

Weleda Pomegranate Firming Eye Cream ($33 for .34 oz.): Yet another full-sized product!

First impressions: It’s no secret I’m on a lifetime hunt for the perfect eye cream. I’m not new to Weleda—it was one of the first product lines I tried—but I’d never tested out any of their eye creams. This one promises to help firm and protect the sensitive eye area and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. I really enjoy the texture of this product; it’s creamy and soothing, and sinks in quickly.

Yogi Tea Detox Tea and Skin Detox Tea ($4.99 for 16 teabags): There are two teabags in this month’s box, one sample of each.

First impressions: I’m no stranger to Yogi Tea, either, but I haven’t tried any of their detoxifying teas yet. I’m particularly excited about the Skin Detox Tea, with rose petal and hibiscus, which are used in Ayurveda to cool and soothe the skin.

All in all, I’d say this month’s Goodebox was a pretty great haul, possibly the best one so far! Have you tried them, or another version of a monthly samples subscription? What have your experiences been like? —Aleigh

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How to evaluate natural/organic cosmetics

I’m starting to peek at the results of the 2013 Indigo+Canary Reader Survey—thanks again to everyone who has already participated!—and I’m seriously grateful to all of you for your candid responses, kind words, requests, and feedback.

One topic that keeps coming up?  The tendency to become overwhelmed by the transition to natural cosmetics. So here’s a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to evaluating a product I’m considering, either in-store or online. I hope you find it helpful.

Feel free to leave your own tips, techniques, challenges, etc. in the comments! I’d be happy to do a follow-up post if anyone has specific challenges for us to tackle together. —Aleigh

DON’T believe the hype. Many, many products contain natural and/or organic ingredients. That doesn’t mean they don’t also contain a bunch of junk ingredients. (Note: The practice of promoting a product as natural when it isn’t is called greenwashing. And it stinks.)

DO realize there’s a difference between natural and organic. There are many natural products out there that aren’t organic (and even many organic products that can’t claim to be 100% organic) that I think are safe and beneficial. I almost always use the term “natural” because I don’t focus exclusively on organic products—you’ll find both natural and organic products on this blog. Some people refer to them as “clean” products.

DO check for ingredients that are an immediate no-go. Fact: Ingredients lists are often overwhelmingly extensive. If you can remember 3-5 key ingredients* you know you want to stay away from at all costs, scan and look for those before you scrutinize the entire ingredients list. That way, if you spot something like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) anywhere on the list, you can rule out that product without having to study each and every ingredient.

DON’T forget to consider your specific needs. If you have sensitive skin or know that you’re sensitive to a certain ingredient, check for those first on an ingredients list. You may also want to be a little more picky about the purity of the ingredients list if you’re looking for a product to use on your little one as opposed to when you’re shopping for a shampoo you’re going to use yourself.

DO look up ingredients you don’t recognize. Especially the ones that are ridiculously long and hard to pronounce. This is the most laborious step, but an important one. In stores, it’s helpful to have a smartphone with some natural beauty apps or a list of your no-go ingredients in your wallet for reference. Online, I keep a link to the SkinDeep Database open so I can switch back and forth easily.

DON’T hesitate to ask for a full ingredients list if you can’t find one. Many not-natural products (and to be fair, some truly natural products) don’t include full ingredients lists online. If this is the case, I often email the company to ask for a complete ingredients list…but it makes me extremely suspicious that a product isn’t actually as natural as it claims.

DO make a judgment call. Transitioning to natural cosmetics is a personal journey. You might decide to go all-in and toss every single one of your not-natural products at once to replace them with purer ones. But you don’t have to. Instead, you may decide to replace them one by one, as you use up your conventional products. Or you may choose to ditch the ones that have the most questionable ingredients first. It’s entirely up to you, and there is no wrong approach. Want more? Here’s a link to my natural/organic beauty philosophy.

DON’T stress over the decision. Easier said than done, I know. But keep in mind that  any effort you make is better than no effort. Really! And you have several factors to consider: convenience, price, availability, performance, and purity. So prioritize those factors in whatever order works best for you. (Example: I frequently buy a mostly-natural mascara in drugstores because I procrastinate on ordering a more natural version online…and mascara is the one beauty product I rarely leave the house without putting on. In that case, I typically prioritize convenience and price over performance and purity.)

*For me, these no-go ingredients are pthalates, any kind of parabens (there are six: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben and benzylparaben), sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, PEGs, and any artificial colors or fragrances. There are plenty other ingredients I avoid or do my best to avoid, of course, but these are the absolute, I-will-not-touch-them items. Bella Floria has a great explanation of these ingredients and a few others you may want to stay away from, here. 

(Image via Christian Kadluba on flickr)

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Link Love: The Week of Love

Some love-ly links to share for the week of love!

6 Ways Kissing Makes You Stronger, from Reader’s Digest.

Hot Water + ACV = Metabolism booster? (I am already testing this one out: and it turns out hot water, even just on its own, is very soothing and energizing—helping me cut back on my mid-afternoon caffeine fix.)

Saffron Rouge has a great post about the benefits of natural mascaras. (Side note: I’m still loving my Living Nature Gentle Makeup Remover.)

The state of California is classifying BPA as a “reproductive hazard,” and I’m thrilled. But there’s more to the story…scan to the end of this page for a little nugget about why you might need to be skeptical of some “BPA-free” claims.

Jolene has a great recipe for “skin juice” a la the gorgeous Naomi Watts.

Finally, this op-ed in The New York Times is generating a lot of buzz. Here’s a snippet:

“Well, the ever-popular formaldehyde — used in nail polish, shampoo, soap and hair straighteners — frequently appears on ingredient lists (sometimes disguised as “formalin”); it’s a known carcinogen. So is dioxane, which rarely appears on labels because it’s not an intentionally added ingredient but a byproduct of manufacturing. (It’s found, for example, in bubble bath.) Some 400 hair dyes and lipsticks contain lead. (In small amounts, but you might not want to kiss your kids if you’re wearing lead-tainted lipstick.) The endocrine disrupters known as phthalates were found by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in pretty much everyone.”

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you have plans for a fantastic weekend. —Aleigh

(Image via Planet of Success on Flickr)

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Natural Beauty Guide: Charlotte, NC

Since I launched Indigo+Canary in 2011, I’ve planned to share natural beauty guides to a few of my favorite cities—and I’m finally ready to make it happen! What better place to start than my current hometown, the lovely city of Charlotte? Read on for my guide to living and shopping natural in the city.

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Link Love Friday: Ice Cold

Today is sleety and cold in normally-blue-skied Charlotte, but I’m happy to have settled in with a dog on my feet and some great links to share.

Ever wondered what those little seals on your natural and organic cosmetics actually mean?  This (long but good!) post does a great job of decoding/deciphering. (Scroll to the bottom if you want to get straight to the details.)

Hormone imbalances can have a big impact on your body (including your skin, weight, hair, and more)…and Wellness Mama put together a great list of easy ways to help your hormones get back to where they should be. (That pesky coffee conundrum pops up again…)

Stories like this one from the New York Times make me a little crazy: one woman’s experiences with a three-day BPA detox. (The crazy part isn’t that she tried to detox from BPA. The crazy part is just how much she had to change her daily routine in order to do it.)

If you’re in NYC, mark your calendar for Feb. 7: Jolene is hosting what sounds like an amazing Beauty Food Supper Club event.

Luckily everything around here isn’t frozen: these adorable blooms popped open on my Meyer lemon tree today and they smell amazing. Happy Friday, everyone!

Photo Credit: OakleyOriginals cc

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